In some regions of the United States it felt more like April or May during the month of February (and now March). Yay! Flip flops and shorts! What could be so bad about that? For some plants and animals an early spring (or really a pattern of earlier springs due to climate change) can cause ecological mismatches. Flowers may bloom before the arrival of pollinators. Certain insects that are a key part of the diet of a migrating bird species might emerge before the arrival of those migrating birds. Different species follow different environmental queues and in a changing climate different species adapt at a different pace. So those seasonal phenomena (migration, breeding, etc…) can be out of whack due to a shift in temperature.
The study of those seasonal phenomena within the context of climate is called phenology. The USA National Phenology Network or NPN (under the United States Geological Survey) focuses entirely on this subject through monitoring and research via scientists and citizen scientists around the country. You can become an NPN citizen scientist by joining Natures Notebook. Sign up and begin recording your observations today and your data will be used by scientists and land managers to better understand and manage for the biological implications of climate change. Sit in your backyard with a notebook and a pencil, an easy way to contribute to science.
About the Illustration: Lilacs and Swallowtails-acrylic paint and rice paper. The lilac is a host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Recently the NPN created maps of the United States that illustrate the arrival of spring across the country based on temperature data from NOAA and extended spring indices-observations of the leafing out and blooming of lilacs and honeysuckles across the country are used as an indicator of leafing out of other plant species. Why lilacs and honeysuckles? Because they are both common flowering plants found across the country.
The remaining portion of the Antarctic ice shelf called ” Larsen C” is showing signs of disintegration and may be no more by the end of the decade. This is deeply concerning since ice shelves help hold glaciers in place. Without that support the pace of glacial movement out to the ocean increases and therefore increases the pace of sea level rise. This particular ice shelf supports three glaciers named Leppard, Flask and Starbuck (anyone recognize the Moby Dick connection?). In 2002 a portion of Larsen C collapsed, it looks like what remains of the 10,000 year old ice shelf will soon be gone. The ice shelf Larsen B collapsed in 2002 which led to the increased flow of supporting glaciers. But Larsen C is 10 times the size of Larsen B and the fourth biggest ice shelf in Antarctica. What this could mean for coastal areas around the world is unknown.
Interested in what’s going on in the Antarctic? Other aspects of climate change? Consider subscribing to Climate Central: http://www.climatecentral.org “An independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public.” Facts still matter.
About the Illustration: Micron pen on vellum paper.
Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky, a lovely illustrated book on some remarkable women in science. I knew many of these intelligent ladies but there were a few new ones. Excellent for that budding scientist on your holiday shopping list.
20% of all my sciart merchandise today at RedBubble: http://rdbl.co/2dNRyQK Code: SPOOKY20 The artwork found on the merchandise is my own and comes directly from my blog posts or is inspired by science and nature. RedBubble creates high quality products (iPhone cases, tote bags, t-shirts, dresses, scarves, mugs, etc…) incorporating artwork from their community of artists. Merchandise is manufactured as orders are placed and shipped directly to your door. The holidays are right around the corner…
This recent illustration appears to incorporate some random critters at first glance. Salamanders, bats, and starfish-what could they possibly have in common?
Bat populations in North America are suffering from White-Nose Syndrome. I wrote about White-Nose Syndrome in “Cave Fresh“. Starfish along the Pacific coast are dying out from Sea Star Wasting Disease. I wrote about Sea Star Wasting Disease in “Trouble Among The Stars“. Salamanders (as well as frogs) around the globe are succumbing to Chytrid fungus. I have yet to write about Chytrid but I did write about Snake Fungal Disease in “Fungus Among Us“.
Disease, unfortunately, is the common thread but it is that common thread that scientists are beginning to see across the globe and across taxa. That is why the science and health community created the One Health Initiative. A collaborative effort connecting human and animal health with environmental health in order to understand the global picture for health. The impact of viruses and warming sea water on starfish may not seem so important to you but it is an indicator of environmental health and what is to come if we do not take notice and act. We are all connected…
Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox and we can now bid farewell to summer. Personally I am relieved that summer is over. I am ready for cardigans and pumpkin spiced anything. Even though the leaves will be changing colors and the nights will be getting cooler, 2016 may turn out to be the hottest year on record. The last year to receive such notoriety was 2015. That’s right-last year.
According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, each of the first six months of 2016 set global records as the hottest since 1880 (when we began measuring such things). Global temperatures continue their upward climb while Arctic sea ice extent continues its downward climb. The recent El Niño event has had some influence on rising temperatures but the general trend in our global climate is a constant upward trajectory due to the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Pumpkin spice season might be getting shorter in the future.
I will be posting more about climate but this is a quick post. My posts will be shorter but more frequent in the future.
Below are some links for those of you who would like to learn more:
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for Annual 2015, published online January 2016, retrieved on September 23, 2016 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201513.